Man caught smuggling 40 finches in hair curlers.
A man who flew from Georgetown, Guyana has been caught attempting to smuggle live birds into the US through John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.
US Customs and Border Protection found 40 finches stuffed inside hair rollers on Saturday in a bag belonging to the 36-year-old man.
Agriculture specialists confiscated the birds and issued a $300 civil penalty to the traveller, before sending him back to Guyana.
Less than a month ago, officers found 26 live finches inside the luggage of a 26-year-old man who had also arrived from Guyana.
Officials say that Finch trafficking is fuelled by singing contests in New York, where some birds can fetch between $3,000 and $5,000 each.
The contests, known colloquially as “bird races,” are especially common in Phil “Scooter” Rizzuto Park in Queens.
The male chestnut-bellied seed finches are judged on how fast, and how long, they sing when held beside each other in cages.
The US Fish and Wildlife Service warn that importing wildlife without permission can be devastating to the country’s agriculture and the food supply.
Birds, in particular, can potentially spread avian influenza or other diseases to local livestock.
The organisation said the latest incident “shows the horror of wildlife trafficking.”